China Launches First Space Lab Module

Successful blast-off is a step toward China's permanent space station

1 min read

China's space program took a big step forward yesterday with the successful launch of a space lab module, the Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1.

The unmanned capsule was carried into orbit by a Long March-2FT1 rocket that blasted off at 9:16 pm Beijing time. The Tiangong-1 will orbit for about a month before the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft comes calling. China's ground-based mission control will practice the rendezvous and docking procedures using the unmanned spacecraft and the module. Then, in the next couple of years, the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 are expected to carry astronauts up to perfect the docking procedures and let astronauts experience life in orbit. 

Here's a video of the launch:

Xinhua news service explains that this module isn't intended to be a permanent space station:

The 8.5-ton module is to stay aloft for two years, after which two other experimental modules are to be launched for additional tests before the actual station is launched in three sections between 2020 and 2022.

The Conversation (0)

​​Why the World’s Militaries Are Embracing 5G

To fight on tomorrow's more complicated battlefields, militaries must adapt commercial technologies

15 min read
4 large military vehicles on a dirt road. The third carries a red container box. Hovering above them in a blue sky is a large drone.

In August 2021, engineers from Lockheed and the U.S. Army demonstrated a flying 5G network, with base stations installed on multicopters, at the U.S. Army's Ground Vehicle Systems Center, in Michigan. Driverless military vehicles followed a human-driven truck at up to 50 kilometers per hour. Powerful processors on the multicopters shared the processing and communications chores needed to keep the vehicles in line.

Lockheed Martin

It's 2035, and the sun beats down on a vast desert coastline. A fighter jet takes off accompanied by four unpiloted aerial vehicles (UAVs) on a mission of reconnaissance and air support. A dozen special forces soldiers have moved into a town in hostile territory, to identify targets for an air strike on a weapons cache. Commanders need live visual evidence to correctly identify the targets for the strike and to minimize damage to surrounding buildings. The problem is that enemy jamming has blacked out the team's typical radio-frequency bands around the cache. Conventional, civilian bands are a no-go because they'd give away the team's position.

As the fighter jet and its automated wingmen cross into hostile territory, they are already sweeping the ground below with radio-frequency, infrared, and optical sensors to identify potential threats. On a helmet-mounted visor display, the pilot views icons on a map showing the movements of antiaircraft batteries and RF jammers, as well as the special forces and the locations of allied and enemy troops.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less